matt | October 12, 2013
So, I don’t think I ever posted pictures about this.
Shortly after the gaming table arrived, the nice folks at GeekChic did a matching keezer collar for our 4 tap beer system in the basement.
matt | February 20, 2011
Well, my version of lazy anyway.
Slept in both days, and am fighting bad glasses. I’m waiting for the new ones to come in from the lab – according to the optometrist, aside from the LensCrafters crappy knockoff transitions coating delaminating, when I had them make me another set to replace my broken ones, it looks like they flipped the left and right prescriptions. My new optometrist had some interesting noises to make while reviewing my notes as he was checking my eyes – not unlike what I say when looking at other people’s goofy code. As a result, I’m now having bad headaches when I use my far lenses. My computer glasses are fine, and the bifocals are fine, so as long as I do detail work for most of the day, I’m good. So, I can work on the computer, paint minis, etc.
- We took down the Christmas tree and decorations. This might sound late, but it’s not – we typically wait until after Valentine’s day to de-Christmasify things.
- Painted some tanks.
- Bottled the spiced winter ale – it’s a little late, but there’s still a little bit of winter left.
- Played with Diesel dog.
- Painted more tanks.
- Watched some movies
- Cleaned up a bit
- Ate up the leftovers in the fridge
- Read some books
Lizzy has been doing similar things, and is working on her Sewing Cabinet. She and her dad have been working in a corner of her mom’s bonsai workshop, and I think the current plan is to try and finish it in the next couple of weeks so that it can be moved back to our house and he can put in the floor in the workshop.
matt | January 3, 2011
So, I’m watching Beer Wars, and a couple of things jump out at me:
- When they’re profiling these companies and looking at them making beer, they’re doing it the same way I am – a couple beer kettles, a carboy, a mill, some grain, water, etc. A lot of them were homebrewers. They actually give a damn, and that’s why their beer has character. I may not like it in all cases, but that’s what variety is for.
- A lot of them are fiercely independent, fighting Anheuser Busch trying to squeeze them out of the market, and trying to not lose control of their companies as they try and serve an America which is thirsty for real beer.
- In many ways, it reminds me of the open source movement and the inevitable fighting against Microsoft. Homebrewed beer is just like homebrewed software – it’s what you need. Folks swap and share recipes, etc.
It’s quite an interesting documentary.
matt | October 21, 2009
This is a short one, but is a small gallery of beer stuff Lizzy got me for my birthday.
matt | August 1, 2009
I realize entries have been sparse, but that’s because I’m trying to get a pile of things done before the oppressive summer heat settles in, which it kind of started to do last weekend, but I’ve been dealing. On thing that helps is these hydro neckbands. They seem silly, but are a definite improvement on the traditional wet bandanna around the neck.
Trees: Last weekend, I took down a bunch of tree limbs which were attempting to induce cranial injury when I mow the lawn. I’m still not done, but this gets me most of the way there. We also had two big bonfires (12′ wide circle, basically constantly fed, for a total of about 8 hours over two nights) to get rid of all the stuff that had accumulated in the previous year to make room for all this. Today, I dragged everything I cut down over to the stone burning circle. I still need to cut it into small enough sections to be able to be able to throw it on to the fire. Of course, this is mostly pine – the apple wood is going to be used for the fire departments chicken BBQ (August 23rd for anyone who is interested).
Garden: The peas are all done, and I’ve pulled them away from the fencing, which we’ll take down when we have a chance. I thinned the third planting of corn today, and the first planting (which, incidentally, goes in at the same time as the second planting, but is a super-early variety, so it only takes about 70 days, as opposed to 90). I weeded the onions, garlic, horseradish, and various other bits. On the good side, we have green tomatoes, the carrots are ready, we’re getting squash, the broccoli is basically done, and the pumpkins, onions and watermelon are progressing nicely. On the downside, the peppers are a little stunted, and the eggplant is completely dead. Next year, they won’t be going in before mid-june, especially since we have light racks to give them plenty of light.
Front walkway: Lizzy has been working on this more than me, but I’ve been helping when I had a chance, but we’re pulling up the walk from the drive to the house (about 30′ by 3′ of gravel walk) which we’re digging down about 6 inches, tamping it flat, putting down sand, and laying bricks (of which there were a pile which came with the house). This will allow us to shovel and salt better to hopefully mitigate the slip and fall issues which we encountered last year. The last thing we want is for the mother in law to fall and bust a hip.
Beer: Liz got me basic beer stuff for my birthday (starter kit (2 carboys, bottling bucket, capper, various other bits and bobs), immersion chiller and some extract kits, and a 155,000 BTU propane burner), and for our anniversary she got me a 15 gallon stainless steel pot with valve. For the curious, it’s probably about $600 worth of stuff, which is about the same as my annual beer bill. I estimate that making my own beer will pay for itself in about 3 years (assuming time is free).
Our first batch was a Bavarian Hefeweizen, which we did a condensed one as we only had a 6 gallon pot. We also got some littlenecks and made some salmon dip and sat on the front porch drinking beer and letting the boil do it’s thing. 2 week primary fermentation, and we bottled it… and then I realized that I grabbed the wrong yeast. I used a Lager yeast.. so, we have a “steam” hefeweizen. It’s actually not bad – somewhat estery and complex, a little malty-sweet. It also could use a little more fizz. The instructions said to bottle with 2/3ds of a cup of dextrose, but I need to do the actual calculations for dissolved CO2 based on fermentation temperature… I expect I need it to be more like 3/4 of a cup or so. But then again, it’s a hefe, so it should be fizzier. This amount of carbonation would be fine for a general dark ale, for example.
The second batch is an Oktoberfest but, as I said before, I had the wrong yeast (I got the two confused). So, I’m going to ferment it in the same way (1 week primary, 5 week secondary, 2 week bottle conditioning) but at ale temperatures, because I don’t want the yeast to go to sleep.
For the curious, we have a spare fridge in the garage, which is currently only used during hunting season (and I need to wash out the deer blood), so we can use it for lagering the rest of the year. However, our cold cellar ranges from about 65 degrees in the summer (good ale temperatures) to about 50 degrees in the winter. We need to insulate it a little better, and finish pouring the concrete (part of it is just dirt) and then maybe put down an epoxy floor, but with appropriate shelving we can easily cellar 1000 bottles of beer, 500 bottles of wine, plus various provisions (garlic, potatoes, onions, canned goods, etc.).
We’ve also gotten kits for an oatmeal stout, a brown ale, and a spiced winter ale. This should keep us good until into the new year, as doing boils from about December until about March becomes problematic – there being about 3 feet of snow on the ground and all, and the freezing temperatures causing problems with the hosing for the immersion chiller and the vaporization of LP. As it is, I need to stick the cylinder in a tub of water to stop it from freezing up.
Come spring, we’ll likely start using other recipes rather than working from kits. I have a book with recipes for beers from around the world and there are a few which we would like to try. That, and I had a Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout called Mokah and it has me interested in variations on that. See, they put the ingredients on the side, so that gives me a starting point. However, Lizzy doesn’t particularly like stouts, but she likes porters (a very, very subtle difference, I know), specifically Yeungling’s porter, which happens to be in the aforementioned book. So, take that porter, adjust it a little bit, and poof, chocolate coffee porter.
Oh, and any type of variant original recipe is being named after cats (presuming we like it). So, the “pleasant surprise” steam hefeweizen is Sunkist hefeweizen (as Sunkist was one of the triplets with the least personality, but has grown into the family and become a very lovable little rascal – a pleasant surprise).
I think that’s about it for now.
matt | November 4, 2007
Simon, Simon's housemate Dan, and Mike came up for the weekend. Much amusement, imbibing, and eating of food was had. Some thoughts:
- Kittens make everything better. They make drinking quite superlative.
- Drinking with friends is better than drinking alone.
- Ribs and wings are better with friends and beer.
- A house doesn't become a home until you fill it with the laughter of friends and family.
- Whiskey tastings are fun.
On spirits (the kind you drink, not the kind which scare you):
- The Sam Adams Oktoberfest isn't as good this year as it has been previous years.
- Brewery Ommegang's ales are quite good and varied. I knew this, but it was agreed upon by the group. Their Rare Vos, Three Philosophers and Hennepin were the real standouts as far as interesting complexity of flavor. “I like this one. I can taste all the stuff in it.” says Mike of the Rare Vos.
- Augustinerbrau Munchen is a wonderful beer. Dan contributed this one. It is wonderfully rich and malty, thick on the tongue and quite alcoholic.
Scotch and Whisk(e)y:
- Johnnie Walker Blue Label is a wonderfully fine blended Scotch Whisky. It is smooth, complex, interesting, and sophisticated. At $180 a bottle, it is also not worth the money. I've had more interesting blends for less money.
- Jameson's in the UK is not the same as Jameson's in the US. The UK label reads “Product of Ireland” and is 700ml. The US label states “Imported” and is 750ml. The UK version is vastly superior – much smoother, with less of a “hot bite”.
Of course, we also tasted my normal fare – Balvenie 15 year old (the 10 is better), Macallan cask strength, Red Breast, etc. We skipped the Kentucky bourbons and the Islay Scotches, as the smokiness of the Islays tends to kill the palette for most other things and the Kentucky bourbons aren't from that part of the world.
matt | June 10, 2005
- Star Trek
- Illuminati: New World Order (INWO)